Saved centre’s first birthday

Celebrations at Friday Funtime playgroup at South Shore Community Centre.
Celebrations at Friday Funtime playgroup at South Shore Community Centre.
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What a difference a year makes. A group of women from the former Highfield Sure Start Children’s centre was heartbroken last March after being told the centre would close.

Government cuts left Blackpool Council trying to claw back £500,000 in funding meaning cash for community centres was cut.

But the group of women was determined to carry on in order to provide a meeting point for mums.

And now one year on, with 40 families using the group, which is based in the former Highfield Library, they held a first birthday celebration.

One mum even baked a special cake in the shape of a one to mark the occasion.

Sarah McCann, 33, of Wetherby Road, South Shore, said: “We are ecstatic to still be going strong, we were absolutely gutted when we told Sure Start had to close.

“It can be so isolating when you are a new mum, groups like this can be a lifeline.

“We were determined families in the area should have somewhere to meet, the group was so well known.

“I have made so many new friends from having this group and I’m so proud we have kept it going.”

All the families brought a selection of food to help the party go with a swing.

The women received help from the South Shore Community Association which runs the Highfield Road site.

The association was able to provide use of the centre free of charge and were delighted to let the mums use it.

Mum Alice Bryze, 37, from the town centre, said: “We couldn’t have done this without the community association, they’ve been amazing.

“We’re delighted the group is still running, it’s great for the children, but it’s important for the mums too.

“It was only when we found out we were going to lose it that many of us realised how much we depended on it.

“We hope we will continue to grow.”

The women stick to many of Sure Start’s principals, including only serving healthy snacks like fruit or drinks like water and milk.

Layton’s Sure Start also closed as a result of the cuts.